If you’re serious about your soccer conditioning, creating a periodization training plan will help you improve your strength, stamina, endurance, speed, agility and quickness without interfering with each other. Training all of these aspects of physical fitness at once can decrease your results, so a year-round workout schedule is your best bet for optimal performance.
The concept of periodization training is to create a workout calendar that changes the loads and volumes of your exercise, making it more game-like as you near your season. The rationale is that strength and aerobic endurance require training methods that use a different energy system than high-speed exercises. Training that calls on more slow-twitch muscle fibers and fat isn’t appropriate for the demands of many sports that require fast-twitch fibers and glycogen. After a recovery from the end of your season, you begin strength and endurance training, moving to power workouts, eventually focusing on speed and anaerobic fitness.
After your season ends, take six weeks to let your body recover. Stay in shape with low-impact, moderate intensity activity such as swimming, cycling, skating or playing other sports at less than full speed. Include daily stretching in the active rest phase of training.
After your active rest period, begin strength training, using heavy loads and low volumes. Perform resistance workouts consisting of four to six repetitions of an exercise using roughly 80 percent of your maximum intensity, or eight to 12 reps using roughly 60 percent of the maximum weight or resistance you can use. Perform three sets of each exercise. Include leg exercises such as deadlifts, presses, squats, lunges, hamstring curls and heel raises. Do strength training three days per week and perform 30- to 60-minute aerobic workouts on days you don’t strength train. Choose low-impact cardio exercises to reduce stress on your knees, hips and back. Rest one day each week.
Several months before your soccer season begins, end your aerobic training, reduce your strength training to once each week and begin power, muscular endurance, speed and interval training. Don’t do strength workouts on days you do speed and power work. Train power by performing exercises using 30 percent to 50 percent of your maximum intensity. Include box squats, reactive squats, box jumps, squat jumps and deadlifts. Improve muscular endurance with circuit training, doing 10 reps of an exercise using 50 percent of your maximum intensity, taking a short break, then starting a new exercise. Keep the circuit going for 30 minutes. Train your anaerobic energy system with interval training. Sprint for 30 seconds, then walk for two minutes. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 15 minutes per workout.
Focus on speed, footwork and agility drills such as using a rope ladder, doing spider drills and using plyo boxes. Continue to interval train to improve your ability to recover after bursts of speed during games. Include drills that require you to use a ball to dribble, pass and shoot.
During your season, keep your workouts game-like. Train at high speed using movements that mirror what you do on the field. Focus on body-weight, dumbbell or resistance band exercises for muscular endurance work and interval training to maintain your conditioning.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.